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Four key project management challenges of remote teams and tips to overcome them

The world has changed a lot in 2020, and many businesses have been forced to go remote. This situation likely isn’t temporary. In fact, as many as 74% of businesses say they will transition of their on-site employees to a permanent remote position even when the pandemic is over.

There are many benefits of having a remote workforce, but also a lot of challenges – such as project management. Handling your team in the office when everyone is in the same building is one thing, but keeping everything together when each team member works remotely is another.

In this article, I’ll highlight the main project management challenges facing remote teams, and also offer a few strategies that show you how to overcome them.

People problems caused by poor communication

Communication among team members is a challenge faced by all remote teams around the world. Because good communication is paramount to the success of any business, it’s really important that you find ways of overcoming this hurdle.

The challenges lie largely with the fact that your team may have different preferences for communicating now that they’re remote, as well as the fact that some of them may become more inaccessible.

This can lead to a slowdown in overall performance, as well as a feeling of disconnect. It can also lead to misunderstandings. According to a recently conducted survey, the biggest project management challenge falls under people problems.

Communication among team members is a challenge faced by all remote teams around the world. Because good communication is paramount to the success of any business, it’s really important that you find ways of overcoming this hurdle.

The challenges lie largely with the fact that your team may have different preferences for communicating now that they’re remote, as well as the fact that some of them may become more inaccessible.

This can lead to a slowdown in overall performance, as well as a feeling of disconnect. It can also lead to misunderstandings. According to a recently conducted survey, the biggest project management challenge falls under people problems.


The most important thing you should do is provide your remote team with effective communication tools. There are different types of tools you can use for different needs. For example, you could build a customized chat app, which is ideal for real-time messaging and chatting about a project. 

Slack, on the other hand, maybe better for sharing files, group chats, as well as video calls. It also lets your team send GIFs, which can be great for informal discussions about your projects. 

As well as establishing communication channels, you could also schedule frequent ‘catch-ups’. This helps your team to stay connected, it gives them a voice and it can encourage them to share their ideas with the group.

Lack of performance tracking

Now that your team is working remotely, it can be a lot harder to track their performance. Poor performance tracking can cause delays if all you’re seeing is a team member’s finished work. Deadlines may be missed, and the finished work may not be of an acceptable standard.

It’s a tough situation because micromanagement is not only a poor solution, it’s also impractical with remote teams.

The best way to hold your remote team accountable and boost performance tracking is to first implement frequent performance discussions. These will give you the chance to chat with team members 1:1 to find out where they are in a project. You can also ask them about any challenges they’re currently facing, and what you can do to help.

You can also use tools to help you monitor your team’s productivity. Performance tracking tools include HiveDesk, which comes with a useful random screen sampling feature, and TSheets, which gives your remote workforce a variety of ways to clock in and out. Therefore, there can be no shirking.

Dealing with time zone differences

Now that your team is remote, it may be tempting to hire additional team members that are located overseas. This can improve the caliber of your employees because it means you’ve got more candidates to choose from, but it also means you’ll have to wrestle with time zone differences.

Time differences can cause major delays in projects. For example, if one team member needs something from another team member before they can move forward with a task, but the other team member has just gone to bed, there will be a lengthy delay.

The easiest way to fix this problem is to simply ask your team members to be more flexible with their working schedules. However, this may not always be possible. In that event, you can use scheduling tools, such as, Calendly, to make sure that work is assigned and delivered at times that suit everyone.

When it comes to things like team meetings, you will need to ask your team for feedback in regards to what times suit everyone. If there is no way that you can agree on a time, the next best thing to do is to record your team meetings. This way, anyone who misses the live meeting won’t miss out completely.

Procrastination

One of the problems faced by remote teams is the temptation to procrastinate. While studies have shown that working remotely can boost productivity, we need to offset this with the fact that there may be team members who put work off until the last minute simply because they’re not in an office environment. As a result, your projects can slow down.

A solution is to educate your team members on the need to create a daily plan. As well as a written plan, you can break all tasks down into smaller ones on your project management tools, so that your team doesn’t become overwhelmed. Other things you could do is remind your team that they don’t need to always aim for perfection. You could utilize a work management tool like Asana that will give their day some much-needed structure and framework.

Conclusion

Good project management is central to the success of your remote team. Use the tips in this article to get to grips with the way your team communicates and performs. Make sure to use tools where possible to help you along the way, and don’t underestimate the importance of talking to each team member one-to-one as often as possible. 

Author Bio

Michelle Deery is a content writer with over eight years of experience. She specializes in writing content for SaaS companies. The words she writes convert readers into paying customers. Learn more at michelledeery.com and connect with her on Twitter @MichWriting.

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